Pro Tips on How to Seal Chalk Pastels on Canvas

Chalk pastels are gaining a lot of popularity these days. It’s smooth and satisfying feeling just makes you fall in love with it. But just painting with it isn’t enough; you must also protect the painting. 

Now, the question arises of how to seal chalk pastels on canvas. For this, the first thing you’ll need to do is to cover the pastel painting with a good-quality fixative. Fixatives can be of many kinds. Some give a matte finish, and some are shiny.

There are also the “workable” and “final” fixatives. Workable fixatives allow you to work in layers, while final fixatives are used to seal the whole painting once the project is finished. You can also try out a suitable alternative, like a varnish or hairspray, if you don’t want to use a fixative. 

This article exclusively focuses on letting you know about all the ways to seal chalk pastels on a canvas. Go through the entire article to get more in-depth knowledge about this.

How to Seal Chalk Pastels on Canvas

Can You Seal Chalk Pastels on Canvas?

As the name suggests, this paint has a very chalky finish and can get smudged pretty easily. So, applying a protectant to seal the painting is a must.  

Using chalk pastels on regular canvas is not a great idea, in my opinion, as the canvas surface can’t hold the pigment properly. You need to use specially made pastel canvas or paper with rough surfaces. 

However, spraying light layers of workable matte fixative or a UV protectant all over the painting will help you protect the layers of the paintings. By spraying fixatives after each layer of paint, you can “lock” the layers. 

This way, you can work on the next layer of paint without disrupting the previous one. You can even erase or modify the latest layer without bothering all the other layers. 

Also, don’t forget to do a patch test before applying the fixative all over the pastel painting. Spray it over a small portion to check the compatibility. This way, you will avoid the risk of ruining the entire piece.

Best Ways to Seal Chalk Pastels on Canvas

Sealing and setting paintings that are done with chalk pastel or soft pastel is very crucial. It will prevent the painting from flaking and fading away after a while. Sealing the pastel also protects it from dust particles and makes it smudge-proof.

Plenty of products in the market can help you seal chalk pastels on canvas. Fixatives, aerosol hairsprays, UV protectants, and spray-on varnishes work well.

Method 1: Take Help of Fixatives

Spray fixatives are a resin-based clear liquid used to “fix” artworks that can get smeared easily. When sprayed over a dry media, it stabilizes the pigments of the color and preserves the finished artwork from external damage.

Various fixatives are available in the market that gives different coverage and finishes. Now, let’s discuss which type of fixative you might need for which purpose.

1. Final Fixatives

Before purchasing a spray fixative, you first need to check whether it is a “final” fixative or a “workable” fixative. This information is usually given on the bottle of the spray fixative. 

A final fixative is used when you are done with your chalk pastel artwork and want to give it a finishing touch. It will hold the pure pigment of your chalk pastels in place and protect the paint from smudges. 

But after applying it, you can no longer add more color. You can choose from a matte, glossy, or semi-glossy fixative spray, depending on which type of finishing you are looking for. 

2. Workable fixatives

Workable fixatives are used to partially seal the soft pastels but not set them entirely. You can still apply more color over the previous layers if you need. It’s an intelligent way to minimize smudging while still working on your art piece. 

Workable spray fixatives are also used to enhance and brighten up light colors. It will give your pastel work a pop of color and make it more attractive. 

Be sure to take some time and let the spray dry completely before applying more color. Otherwise, the colors will bleed and end up mixing, which can mess up the entire artwork. 

3. Matte & glossy fixatives

You can choose a glossy finish fixative if you want a gorgeous shine on the chalk drawings. It will instantly level up the artwork. However, if you want a subtler look, choosing a fixative with a matte finish will be wiser. 

Glossy finish fixatives can potentially affect the coloring and shading of an art piece. So, if you don’t want to risk it, go for the matte one. It will give you a muted, smooth finish and make the pastel work stand out.

Method 2: Use Aerosol Hair Spray

Aerosol hair spray is a cheaper alternative to the available fixatives. These are much more affordable and easier to find. Some pastel artists find them much more convenient to use with chalk pastels and oil pastels. 

A downside of using aerosol hair spray is- once you apply it, you can’t make any more changes to your painting. It works as a final topcoat and won’t allow you to put more color over it. 

I don’t like the way hairspray dries and makes the colors darker. But if that does not concern you, you should try them out. While spraying aerosol all over your painting, hold the bottle at least a foot away to get an even spreading. 

Cover the entire surface with a thin coating. Don’t get too overboard with the spray, as it will most likely mess up the shading of your drawing.

Method 3: Try Spray-On Varnish

Polyurethane varnish is one of the best and strongest spray-on varnishes. It has a great seal that holds the paint’s pigment so perfectly that it does not smudge a bit, even after a long time. 

Polyurethane is gaining more popularity daily as it is straightforward to use. But, before applying it, remember that this varnish raises a risk that your artwork will turn yellowish after a few years. 

To avoid this from happening, you might want to take a look at polycrylic varnishes. Polycrylic varnishes are very similar to polyurethane. I hear many artists saying that it’s even better than Polyurethane. 

The water-based formula of it is straightforward to use. And the best part is, with this varnish, you don’t have to worry about your complex worked piece turning yellow after a while anymore. 

Sanding between the polyacrylic layers ensures that the next layer of paint can hold onto the surface appropriately. It will protect your drawing and keep the colors intact for a long time. But you will need to sand in between each coat of the spray. 

Other than these, you can use mod podge or epoxy resin to cover and protect chalk pastels. If you want to elevate your art piece by giving it a more professional look, epoxy resin is the way to go. 

It will leave a glossy shine and make the painting even more eye-catching.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can You Use Mod Podge to Seal Chalk Pastels?

Spraying fixatives to seal chalk paints might not always be the best option, especially as fixatives can turn the colors dark sometimes. To avoid this issue, painters often use mod podge to seal chalk pastels. 

While using mod podge, it’s best to paint and seal the dark colors first. Gently brush the paint surface with a mod podge to seal the pigments. Don’t apply too much pressure, or the colors can get smudged. 

Mod podge is excellent for use in any poorly ventilated space as it doesn’t have any strong smell. However, this is not the best option if you are looking for a subtle matte look.

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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